why we write

beautiful trees and watermy little workshop for MentalHealthCamp, “blogging yourself home” about blogging, writing, creativity and mental health had me think hard about the connection between these topics in the last week or so. i was deligthed, then, to come across alison, who blogs (and teaches) about writing about mental health. in this post, she asks why do you write?

here are my answers.

i write because

  • i can’t imagine not writing
  • the sensuality of it: the physical feeling of pen on paper and fingertips on keyboard; the sound of tap-tap-tap and scratch-scratch-scratch; the sight of paper, the look of a blog post
  • my brain is always full of stuff (pete would offer a reason why) and its good to get at least some part of it out
  • when i do specific writing-for-healing, i KNOW it helps me
  • it connects me with others
  • it looks like others get something from it, sometimes
  • letters are yummy, words are yummy, sentences are yummy, grammar is yummy, language is yummy
  • sometimes i manage to create something beautiful
  • text is an integral part of my upbringing and it makes me feel part of our culture
  • did i say i can’t imagine not writing?

in the same post, alison also says that she is

opposed to writing for healing that doesn’t attend to craft. part of it is because that sort of writing turns inward away from the larger world and the political dimension is so important to me.

i find that an interesting and challenging statement, and would like to hear more about it. perhaps alison will comment.

as i am reflecting on this, i can’t quite see how writing that does not attend to craft (i presume alison means style, narrative flow, sentence structure, etc.) necessarily turns away from the larger world. perhaps alison is referring to navel-gazing content and style? even if that is the case – aren’t there lots of navel-gazers out in the blogosphere, and don’t they somehow have a community?

or – maybe that’s it: when writing is not well-crafted, it will have a lesser chance of being taken seriously, and that decreases any political impact it may have.

what do you think?

oh, and if you write, dear reader, why do YOU write?

image by floato


  1. We have the same notion of writing. My “head” is full of things that need to be written. When I see something worthy of writing, I immediately scribble the words and will complete when I get home.

  2. Well, frankly, my purpose in starting my blog was to make money doing what I love – helping people get healthier (especially the psychological/development side of things.

    I write in my journal to sort things out and get in touch with spirit. I shudder to think what anyone interested in craft would make of my journal!

    For me writing is a tool – my enjoyment is thinking and expressing clearly. Occasionally I am proud of a way of putting something. But my focus is on the content more than the form. The more that I can say what I want to simply and directly the happier I am. I’m not sure if this is what Alison would mean by craft. (If she comments it will be interesting to see what she makes of your individual approach to punctuation). My writing heroes are people like Simenon, Orwell and Bill Bryson.

    I think craft and content are different. You can have navel gazing stuff that is well crafted and political stuff that is just awful.

    Evan’s last blog post..Special Thanks

  3. I write because it’s the way I synthesize what I’m learning at the time. I write because I hate to lose things and writing them down is a way not to lose them

    colleen’s last blog post..Dead Orange

  4. For me, writing is a way to release emotions, to clear thoughts, explore ideas. It is in writing that I am able to express myself. It does not necessarily have to be read by someone else, I write for myself. It’s a form of meditation and relaxation for me.

    UPrinting Samples’s last blog post..UPrinting.com Printing Samples

  5. Why do I write?

    Its better out than in, or is that wind? 🙂

    I definitely identify with the full brain, my head gets so full of ideas sometimes its hard to write it all down (doodling takes over here).

    I suppose with my blog, as its a personal blog, its like talking to myself but inviting others to listen and get to know me.

    I also love sharing the stuff that I learn in class. Hopefully showing that the journey to becoming a therapist is full of ups and downs, but ultimately a wonderful thing.

    Claire’s last blog post..Who cares?

  6. I don’t blog, but I love reading other people’s, and have found them to be very helpful in my daily struggle to sustain recovery from anorexia. I do write though, I have written one book and am halfway through the second. Whilst these are entirely works of fiction the writing process still heals in some way, whether the focus is intrinsic or not, I understand where the comment is coming from, that there can be a danger of looking inward for too long, but really when in recovery, and at various points in life this needs to be done before the wider world can be faced. The value of writing of any kind should never be diminished, and móst writing pays attention to ‘form’, each individual has something worthwhile to say, and as I said earlier, whilt I don’t blog they have been invaluable to me, and therefore I think this kind of writing should be encouraged. All writing as a means of expression and head clearing and thought unjumbling is very important, I wish someone had told me this sooner!

  7. I write sometimes to get control over things and sometimes in order to lose control… and I second isabella’s yummy yummy yummy. It is sensuous and pleasurable and gives me a feeling of complete freedom in creating a world… a beautiful blank notebook and a pen are my idea of heaven! It’s all for you and it’s all about connection, too. I like that paradox.

  8. isabella –

    I have several reasons for writing -like you, I can’t not write. Whenever I’m stuck or away from it for a while, I don’t feel like I”m fully myself. The process is the deepest I have for tapping into creativity and a whole different way of experiencing my life. Writing is also the way I think – not logically but by linking one association after another.

    At the same time, I don’t write just to feel good on my own. I agree with Alison that communicating, connecting with others demands a lot of craft and shaping to make a clear impact.

    So it’s a lot of things – and a necessity for me.


    John Folk-Williams’s last blog post..What We Deserve from Life

  9. i only write when i’m inspired. but other than that, i find it really hard to come up with a composition. writing, for me, is more of an outlet… if you ask me to write about a topic, most probably, i would find it really hard to come up with something. writing takes a lot out of me…

    Business IT Alignment’s last blog post..O1

  10. I write my blog, because i will be happy to share my stories with my friends,you may know something that is interesting is happening in some place of the world, but others don’t know.

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